Most heel pain is due to a condition called plantar fasciitis, inflammation and/or degeneration of the plantar fascia, a thick connective tissue running from the heel bone to the ball of the foot that helps maintain the arch of the foot and transmits your weight across the foot as you walk or run. Typically, symptoms are at their worst when you wake up in the morning. The following conditions can cause or aggravate plantar fasciitis:
- Walking with an abnormal step
- Prolonged walking or standing
- Sports such as running or basketball
- Lack of arch support
- Inflexible Achilles tendons and calf muscles
- Walking barefoot on hard surfaces.
Fortunately, most cases of plantar fasciitis respond to basic treatment options. Until your plantar fascia is healthy again, you may have to rest your foot by modifying the types of physical activities you perform. Pain may be treated with icing and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen, if your doctor approves. In some cases, your physician may prescribe an oral or injectable corticosteroid. Orthotic shoe inserts, night splints and proper footwear may help, too. When treatment is unsuccessful, surgery to release the tension of the plantar fascia ligament may be considered.
Most importantly, an exercise regimen designed to strengthen and stretch the plantar fascia can bring long-term relief. We can design a complete program to relieve the pain of plantar fasciitis, while strengthening your foot to help prevent recurrence of the problem.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kim Gladfelter, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Women's Health Physical Therapy Specialist at PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness
Kim Gladfelter is a physical therapist, Pilates instructor, educator, author, and co-founder of PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness. She is known as a keen, well-rounded expert of healing through movement and women’s health specialist in the Silicon Valley area.
Kim has helped men and women of all ages to stay active and feel their best. She also writes about managing pain in her health columns, blogs and the local Los Altos Town Crier newspaper as well as reaches out to the local community, support groups, schools, libraries, and sports centers to advise and educate on body awareness and therapeutic exercise.